The best books about sexual violence, hope, and healing

Why am I passionate about this?

God gave me a life-long calling to help anyone affected by sexual violence. Words often fail when I try to describe the pain that results from sexual abuse and what it truly means to me to make a positive difference in the lives of survivors. My heart and soul break for those who are suffering from evil crimes, and yet I continuously see people disclosing, expressing, growing, and healing. From my many years working as a counselor and advocate, I've learned that very often people just need someone to be with them and listen. I'm committed to supporting others in this area for as long as I can be helpful.


I wrote...

To The Survivors: One Man's Journey as a Rape Crisis Counselor with True Stories of Sexual Violence

By Robert Uttaro,

Book cover of To The Survivors: One Man's Journey as a Rape Crisis Counselor with True Stories of Sexual Violence

What is my book about?

To the Survivors is about one man’s journey as a rape crisis counselor with true stories of sexual violence shared by survivors in their own words. Gently and beautifully constructed, To the Survivors is moving, tender, sharp, and piercingly true all at once. Readers will encounter uncensored written stories, poems, and interviews from women and men who have experienced rape and sexual assault, plus the advocate-author voice that weaves their experiences together. The survivors are diverse yet each gives a similarly raw and heartfelt account of their victimization and recovery. The authenticity and vulnerability with which the survivors speak resonates profoundly, but this book is not just for survivors of sexual violence. Uttaro believes anyone can benefit from the words in these pages, rape survivor or not. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back

Robert Uttaro Why did I love this book?

This book will always be special to my heart because it was the most influential book in getting me involved with rape crisis counseling and advocacy. I remember being a college student while reading this and feeling emotions of horror, anger, compassion, and inspiration.

Raine takes the reader on her personal journey of being violently raped and the ups and downs of her healing process. Part of the beauty of this book is the skill with which the author demonstrates how incredibly destructive and life-changing our responses to rape disclosures can be.

Her book encourages: if anyone ever discloses to you, please believe them, listen to them, and try your best to meet them wherever they are. 

By Nancy Venable Raine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked After Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The subject of rape has long been 'unspeakable' and remains one of the most controversial and emotionally charged issues for society. For Nancy Venable Raine, second only to the soul-breaking burden of her rape at 39 was the silence that shrouded it, a silence born of her own feelings of shame and the incomprehension of others. She uses the redemptive power of language to lift the silence that is rape's legacy and to promote an understanding of the stigma that haunts rape's survivors.
Using wide-ranging sources from literature, mythology, psychology and feminist theory, she exposes the complicated damage and response…


Book cover of Resurrection After Rape: A Guide to Transforming from Victim to Survivor

Robert Uttaro Why did I love this book?

Resurrection After Rape: A Guide to Transforming from Victim to Survivor is a therapeutic book with personal stories, artwork, and transformative writing exercises that can be life-changing for rape survivors.

Atkinson is gentle in his approach, and although the readings and exercises may be triggering and at times extremely difficult, they can also provide comfort and clarity throughout the process of engaging with them. I recommend that this book be worked through with a therapist or someone else trained in sexual violence. 

By Matt Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Resurrection After Rape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Updated 2017 Edition! Expanded with new content! Looking for a book about rape that's not depressing or boring, but doesn't also avoid deeper emotions and questions either? Resurrection After Rape is a deeply-moving, powerful guide for women recovering from rape. What sets this apart from others on this topic is that this one isn't written only by a therapist; it's a collaboration between a therapist, and dozens of survivors who have contributed their insights, journals, and art for you to see. Reading this book is like having your own room full of women who have succeeded in recovery, all of…


Book cover of Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prison

Robert Uttaro Why did I love this book?

Fish is a powerful, detailed memoir about TJ Parsell’s incarceration in an adult prison as a teenager.

At the age of 17, Parsell chose to hold up a store with a toy gun, and that mistake led to horrific exploitation and sexual abuse by other inmates. This book deals with issues of gang rape, prison hierarchy, injustice, surviving behind bars, and Parsell’s growth into and embracing his own sexuality.

I felt sad and disgusted while reading it, however I learned so much and I believe this book is vitally important when thinking about prison systems, sentencing, and prison rape. Parsell was eventually released from prison, and he has dedicated so much of his life to prison reform, prevention of sexual violence, and helping survivors.  

By T. J. Parsell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When seventeen-year-old T. J. Parsell held up the local Photo Mat with a toy gun, he was sentenced to four and a half to fifteen years in prison. The first night of his term, four older inmates drugged Parsell and took turns raping him. When they were through, they flipped a coin to decide who would "own" him. Forced to remain silent about his rape by a convict code among inmates (one in which informers are murdered), Parsell's experience that first night haunted him throughout the rest of his sentence. In an effort to silence the guilt and pain of…


Book cover of I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced: A Memoir

Robert Uttaro Why did I love this book?

Where does one begin to write about forced child marriage and childhood sexual abuse?

In her own words, Nujood writes, “I’m a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no.

Nujood Ali was sold by her family to a man who married her and continuously raped her before she even hit puberty. It is truly disturbing to read about the hell that Nujood endured, yet it is also astonishing and inspirational to see that she escaped and became Yemen’s first child bride to win a divorce. Nujood continues to be an international activist for Yemen and young girls all over the world, spreading light over evil. 

By Nujood Ali, Delphine Minoui, Linda Coverdale (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

“I’m a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no.”
 
Nujood Ali's childhood came to an abrupt end in 2008 when her father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. With harrowing directness, Nujood tells of abuse at her husband's hands and of her daring escape. With the help of local advocates and the press, Nujood obtained her freedom—an extraordinary achievement in Yemen, where almost half of all girls are married…


Book cover of Raped Black Male: A Memoir

Robert Uttaro Why did I love this book?

I had the good fortune to meet Kenny Rogers at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and I was immediately struck by his kindness and gentle spirit.

Raped Black Male: A Memoir is a moving book that offers vivid details of his childhood rape, but the book is about more. Rogers also provides compelling fictional anecdotes and reflections on his internal struggles—from homelessness to what it means to be a black man in America.

Rogers is a powerful human being and his story is another reminder that a person can overcome the painful effects of sexual violence to live a healthy and productive life. 

By Kenneth Rogers Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raped Black Male as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Raped Black Male tells my story of being homeless and struggling to overcome depression while coming to terms with being sexually assaulted by my sister at age eight. Beginning in my middle school years, the novel weaves its way through the '90s to present day, as the stress of exceeding expectations of what it means to be a black male and the crippling unspoken belief that says (without saying) - it's impossible for a man to be raped - has forced one mental breakdown after another, resulting in thoughts of suicide. This memoir is filled with depth, humor, and honesty…


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The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

By Kathryn Betts Adams,

Book cover of The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

Kathryn Betts Adams

New book alert!

What is my book about?

The Pianist's Only Daughter is a frank, humorous, and heartbreaking exploration of aging in an aging expert's own family.

Social worker and gerontologist Kathryn Betts Adams spent decades negotiating evolving family dynamics with her colorful and talented parents: her mother, an English scholar and poet, and her father, a pianist and music professor. Their vivid emotional lives, marital instability, and eventual divorce provided the backdrop for her 1960s and ‘70s Midwestern youth.

Nearly thirty years after they divorce, Adams' newly single father flies in to woo his ex-wife, now retired and diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Their daughter watches in disbelief as they reconcile and decide to live together again. She steps in to become her parents' eldercare manager when her mother’s condition worsens, facing old family dynamics and disappointing limitations to available services. Throughout, she attempts to help her parents maintain their humanity in their final years.

The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

By Kathryn Betts Adams,

What is this book about?

Grounded in insights about mental health, health and aging, The Pianist’s Only Daughter: A Memoir presents a frank and loving exploration of aging in an aging expert's own family.

Social worker and gerontologist Kathryn Betts Adams spent decades negotiating evolving family dynamics with her colorful and talented parents: her English scholar and poet mother and her pianist father. Their vivid emotional lives, marital instability, and eventual divorce provided the backdrop for her 1960s and ‘70s Midwestern youth.

Nearly thirty years after they divorce, Adams' father finds himself single and flies in to woo his ex-wife, now retired and diagnosed with…


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